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Wild shake off bad start, earn 6-3 blowout win over Kings

The response started with Kirill Kaprizov. Who else would it be? He lifted the Wild from the depths of despair late in the first period with a goal to cut the deficit to 3-1. That stretched Kaprizov’s season total to 42 goals, tying him with Marian Gaborik and Eric Staal for the franchise record.

NHL: Los Angeles Kings at Minnesota Wild
Minnesota defenseman Jared Spurgeon scores a second-period goal on Los Angeles Kings goaltender Cal Petersen on Sunday, April 10, 2022, at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
Matt Krohn / USA Today Sports
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ST. PAUL -- All season long, the Minnesota Wild have prided themselves on their ability to mount a comeback.

No matter how much they might be down, they never feel like they are out of it.

Marc-Andre Fleury finally got to see it for himself on Sunday night at Xcel Energy Center. Simply put, Fleury was not very good early in the opening 20 minutes against the Los Angeles Kings. He looked uncomfortable in the crease and surrendered a pair of goals he’d no doubt like to have back.

In the end, though, it hardly made a difference, as the Wild mounted their latest comeback in a 6-3 blowout win over the Kings.

“Oh jeez,” Fleury said with a laugh postgame. “I wasn’t happy with myself to start the game. But I loved how the guys responded.”

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To say it was a bad start for Fleury would be putting it lightly.

He surrendered a shorthanded goal to Rasmus Kupari roughly 90 seconds into the game to make it 1-0 in favor of the Kings and that was just the beginning. Not long after that, the Kings went up 2-0 on a backhander from Carl Grundstrom, then stretched the lead to 3-0 on a blast from Adrian Kempe.

NHL: Los Angeles Kings at Minnesota Wild
Minnesota goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury makes a save during the third period Sunday, April 10, 2022, against the Los Angeles Kings. The Wild won 6-3.
Matt Krohn / USA Today Sports

In the immediate aftermath of Kempe’s goal, Fleury tomahawked his stick against the post in a not-so-subtle manifestation of his frustration between the pipes. Asked what he said to himself to calm down afterward, Fleury replied, “Probably a few bad words.”

“Just trying to get the frustration out,” Fleury said. “Then a few deep breaths to relax a bit and tried to make the next save. The team that we have, I always have confidence that we can come back in games, and we did tonight.”

The response started with Kirill Kaprizov. Who else would it be? He lifted the Wild from the depths of despair late in the first period with a goal to cut the deficit to 3-1. That stretched Kaprizov’s season total to 42 goals, tying him with Marian Gaborik and Eric Staal for the franchise record.

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Less than a minute after Kaprizov scored, Matt Boldy, who missed the previous four games with an upper-body injury, made it 3-2 with a blast from the left circle. That gave the Wild new life heading into the locker room at intermission.

“Everything just seemed a little flat early on,” said Jake Middleton, who chipped in with a pair of assists in the game. “It was kind of deflating. We picked ourselves back up and dusted the boots off and went to work.”

That paved the way for the second period where Wild completely took over. It started with a goal from Jared Spurgeon to tie the game at 3-3, and continued with a goal from Mats Zuccarello to make it 4-3 in favor of the Wild.

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That’s when Fleury really started to settle in with a few big glove saves before Marcus Foligno provided some insurance with a redirection to stretch the lead to 5-3.

“You look at Flower, and after he gives up those goals, it’d be easy for him to turn it off,” Boldy said. “But he’s an absolute wall back there and made tons of saves after and that’s why he’s gonna be a hall of famer. It’s unreal.”

NHL: Los Angeles Kings at Minnesota Wild
Minnesota Wild left wing Jordan Greenway (18) controls the puck while Los Angeles Kings defenseman Tobias Bjornfot defends during the second period Sunday, April 10, 2022.
Matt Krohn / USA Today Sports

With the game well in hand, Nick Bjugstad cleaned up a rebound early in the third period to finalize the score at 6-3. That was more than enough for Fleury, who continued to impress throughout the game, finishing with 31 saves after his bad start.

“I liked how everybody didn’t panic,” Fleury said. “It shows the maturity of the group and the character of the group. We kept pushing to get the next goal, and we did, and we went from there.”

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